Recent Work

Etching – was brought to England by a Bohemian, Wenceslaus Hollar, about 1630. Most major artists produced prints at some stage in their careers. There is an outstanding National Collection which is housed in the Print Room of the British Museum and is open to public inspection.

Etchings form the major part of my own output and are produced on zinc or copper plates, which are heated and evenly covered with a thin layer of wax ground to protect the surface from the acid. The waxed surface is then covered with carbon black by suspending the plate over a bundle of burning tapers.
Waxing the plate.
Smoking the plate.

The original drawing is traced using a soft lead pencil. The paper is reversed in order to place the pencilled side in contact with the blackened plate and the image is transferred under the pressure of the printing press. The etching needle then drawn lightly along the the impressed lines of the image, so exposing the metal underneath. The image may then be etched into the metal by immersion in a bath of dilute nitric acid (used for zinc) or of ferric chloride solution (for copper). At timed intervals the plate may be removed from the bath, dried and sections protected from further attack by painting them with varnish. In this way a sense of depth in the image may be obtained.

When printing the completed image, excess ink is applied to the plate and it is then wiped clean in a manner which leaves ink within the bitten lines; this residual ink is forced out on to the dampened printing paper under the pressure of the printing press.

Aquatint is a variant on line etching which produces a body of tone like a watercolour wash. It was first used in England about 1770 by Peter Burdett of Liverpool. To prepare the plate a low density resin is suspended as a cloud in a closed box: the cleaned metal plate is inserted and left for the particles to settle on its surface. On heating from below with a hand held gas flame the resin melts and the particles meld where they touch, to leave a matrix of tiny holes through which acid may penetrate and produce a roughened surface which will accept ink. The image is created by selectively protecting the surface with varnish and by varying exposure times.

The aquatint box, showing the paddle which is turned to suspend the resin and the slot to insert the plate.
  Melting the resin; notice the density of the settled resin and the transparent area where it has melted.  
Linocut Linoleum is named from the Latin linum oleum or linseed oil and is made by mixing the solidified oil with crushed cork. It is easily pared away with lightweight gouges to leave the raised image, which may then be inked with a roller and printed by hand pressure, or better, with the etching press. Linocutting was first used in Vienna to teach schoolchildren by Professor Cizek in about 1880. In England it was raised to a serious art form by Claude Flight in the 1920’s.
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